No wait for walk-ins seeking health care coverage - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

No wait for walk-ins seeking health care coverage through government exchange


Eau Claire (WQOW) - A week in, and a major question about the health care exchange remains; how many people in Wisconsin are enrolling?  No one in the state has an answer. That's because the federal government is running Wisconsin's exchange, and is not releasing that information yet.

Last week's rollout was marred by online problems. We were told the system had trouble handling so much traffic. On Wednesday, we're getting an update from Eau Claire County about the process.

The sound of silence isn't quite what officials were expecting with the launch of the health care exchange last week. According to state estimates for Eau Claire...

"Locally, about 10,000 individuals would seek assistance through their county," said Linda Struck, Eau Claire County Human Services Economic Specialist.

But so far, there hasn't been much of a cram for coverage at Eau Claire County's Human Services Department. The computers are on, and phones are ready.

"We planned for walk in traffic, so locally here in Eau Claire County, we added phone lines to our Aging and Disability Resource Center lobby, Public Health lobby, and then Human Services here," struck explained.

The county is one of nine in western Wisconsin working together to deal with enrollment. The bulk of the traffic in those nine counties so far has been over the phone.

"We see roughly around 50 or 100 calls additional calls a day regarding how to apply, what's going on with the marketplace, requesting resources," said Struck.

And as for the online marketplace…

"There have been issues with the website, it's been slow or it's been down. I mean now I see where as people go in to apply, it's putting them into a holding pattern," Struck said.

We've been told the first report showing enrollment numbers will be released on November 18th.

The federal government released a statement Wednesday, saying wait times have been significantly reduced and more people are logging on and applying. The enrollment period runs for six months. For those who sign up before December 15th, coverage kicks in January 1st.

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